Yeah, sorry, another post without an image. Just me rambling about something I think is valuable to the journeyman wedding photographer.
Saturday's wedding was wonderful. I got to work with an old colleague (well, I'm old and she's still young - I think we started working together when she was still in the womb). It was her wedding and I invited myself along as assistant/second banana. Not a place I find very comfortable. So, in a sense, I was working on stretching my comfort zone.
The bride was fantastic and looked like she modeled (or had in the past). And the groom was nice, too. But he had no patience for the photographers or getting his photos done. By the time we got to the reception all he wanted to do was see his friends and party. We still had pretty much all of his family photos to take, but he was too busy.
So I, and this is the part I want you to really listen to, started following him around. Not obnoxiously, but respectfully. When I saw him light up when he saw a friend, I stepped in and motioned for a picture. He was delighted. I told him I would be close by and if he wanted a picture, just turn to me and I would do it. He started turning to me frequently and soon was motioning me to follow him all around the reception area as he actively sought out people. After a while, I saw his brother close by and suggested a photo. He readily agreed. And then we went back to wandering around looking for friends. After about another dozen of these shots, I saw his mother close by and suggested that we do a photo with her. Again, he readily agreed. At that point, I decided to take a chance and suggested that since his dad was close by, why not bring his mother over and do a photo with his mother and father. He agreed and we got that shot. When I suggested a photo of him and his dad, he waved me off, but countered with a group request of him, his father, and two of his uncles. I did it and suggested him and his father again and he agreed.
All throughout this "follow-him-around" time I was building a rapport with him just by being close by and ready to do whatever he wanted. Later in the night I found I could suggest things and he would comply. But all the while, I was close by and would step up any time he turned to me for a photo. I became his "personal photographer" and I was there for him. I had his best interest in mind and showed it by taking whatever he wanted. When it came time at the end of the night to photography the couple's good-bye shot, my friend, the lead photographer, sent me to find the groom and get him to come out for the shot we had planned. All the rapport I had built earlier really came in handy as he complied. Even when I grabbed his coat, he put it on without a word.
The moral of this story, kids, is to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Simply showing a willingness to do whatever he wanted. Showing a willingness to follow him around and do what he wanted to do, helped to establish a relationship between us that allowed me to do my job and get him the images that he will want at some point in the future. Image not having a photo with your mother at your wedding. Inconceivable!!!
A side note to all this is being prepared. I was prepared for each shot. I was changing settings (ISO & color balance) as we moved from the outside to the inside or vice versa. I was in position to simply raise my camera, fire, and be done. Just a few seconds, and I was back out of the way. In short, I was ready. Being fast is very helpful and people really appreciate not having to spend a lot of time posed and waiting while the photographer fumbles with his equipment. You can usually do a test shot before they are ready, just so you are ready.